Sophia Robinson left her hometown of North Carolina to begin her year in the Dominican Republic as a fellow at Yspaniola, working to provide high quality education programs to local children.
Sophia Robinson ’22, a graduate in International and Global Studies with a minor in Spanish from Charlotte, NC, is moving to the Dominican Republic to work in the international development industry for Yspaniola.
Robinson credits the staff at Elon’s Student Professional Development Center (SPDC) for their support throughout the job search and hiring process that helped her land her role as a Yspaniola Fellow.
As a Yspaniola Scholar, Robinson strives to further the organization’s mission of providing marginalized communities with access to high quality education. Robinson helps provide long-term solutions to deep-rooted issues.
Robinson recently answered some questions from the SPDC about his experience in this prestigious position.
How did your interest in working for Yspaniola come about?
I have always had an interest in traveling and working in the international development industry. I was unable to complete my study abroad experience due to COVID-19, which made me even more motivated to look for a job or a learning opportunity abroad. I was looking for job opportunities in the non-profit sector and came across Yspaniola, an organization that works on education and literacy for children in a very low income area as well as documentation issues for Haitian-Dominicans. I was so excited because the scholarship seemed like everything I was looking for in terms of international experience and non-profit organization in the field of international development. I saw that it was in the Dominican Republic, which was also very exciting for me since I am a native Spanish speaker and my minor is in Spanish, which strengthened my academic fluency. I knew it would be a great opportunity and a learning experience for me!
When you met the SPDC staff, what were you trying to accomplish?
When I met the SPDC I was looking for help with the job search process as it can be quite overwhelming. Specifically, I needed help finding websites and areas of research that would lead me to jobs in my field of interest. Once I found a job I wanted to apply for, I wanted help to make sure my application and interview were up to scratch so I got hired.
Who have you worked with and what have you learned from your experience with the SPDC?
Rachael Rysz, my Career Advisor, gave me some very helpful networking tips and tips for contacting employers I was interested in before the application process to learn more about the show opportunity and initiative . I also participated in career sessions offered by Paul Hvozdovic of SPDC, who partnered with the Center for Race, Ethnicity, & Diversity Education (CREDE) SMART Mentoring Program. Through my interactions with the SPDC, I have learned to use LinkedIn, the SPDC website, and various job search sites.
What was your experience in getting this opportunity at Yspaniola?
I did a lot of research on the organization before applying. Once I realized how excited I was about this opportunity, I reached out to Rachel Rysz, who had been working with me to find the right next step. She recommended that I email one of the current Fellows via LinkedIn to learn more about their experience and set up a meeting. The meeting went very well and I was sure it was my next step after Elon. I wrote a cover letter and received help from CREDE and SPDC staff to edit it and prepare for my interviews. I had two interviews and had to prepare a project plan, including how I would implement it from start to finish if I were to be hired. I received an email a few weeks later letting me know that I had received the job.
What marked you in the corporate culture?
The work environment seemed to be very friendly and positive. For example, one of the qualities on the job list that stood out to me was a “good sense of humor,” which I thought was a positive indicator that the workplace was friendly and open to people. spirit.
What did you learn about the people, the culture and the work you will do that made you want to pursue a career with Yspaniola?
Yspaniola seemed to tick all my boxes in terms of people, culture and work. I wanted to be part of an organization that helps people better support and help themselves, rather than providing short-term solutions to deeper issues and then leaving. Yspaniola’s mission statement particularly struck me: “We believe in an inclusive Dominican Republic that provides access to high quality education and promotes the human rights of all. This is something that corresponds to both my personal and professional goals and which made me want to continue my collaboration with Yspaniola.
Have you worked with other staff or faculty members to prepare for the application process?
I received help from various staff who work for CREDE, especially Sylvia Munoz and MJ Larrazabal, who really helped me prepare for my interviews and edited my cover letter. They have been invaluable to me and I greatly appreciate their unwavering support.
What recommendations would you share with other students about the SPDC?
I would recommend students go to the SPDC for any questions or advice they may seek, even if it seems trivial. There are many great tools, resources and tips that are available and created for the benefit of students, take advantage of them!